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ED to move court to seize Nirav Modi’s assets under provisions of Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance

The Enforcement Directorate is set to move the special court in Mumbai requesting permission for ‘immediate confiscation’ of about 7000 crores worth assets of designer diamond jeweller Nirav Modi under the recently annunciated ‘Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance’.

The ED will seek an official declaration to categorize Nirav Modi a ‘fugitive’ based on the charge sheet filed before a special court in Mumbai last week under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

On May 24, a charge sheet including 24 accused, to name a few, Nirav Modi, his father, brother Neeshal Modi, sister Purvi Modi, brother-in-law Mayank Mehta and firms M/s Solar Exports, Stellar Diamonds and Diamonds R Us, was filed in the USD 2 billion PNB fraud case stating that over Rs 6,400 crore of bank funds were allegedly laundered abroad to dummy companies.

As said by a senior officer of ED, the court is expected to take cognisance of the 12,000 page charge sheet tomorrow and the counsel for the agency will subsequently seek its permission to invoke the provisions of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance against Modi and immediately begin the procedure to confiscate all the assets “of and linked to” Modi in India and abroad.

The court had issued a non-bailable warrant against Nirav Modi and the ED has also moved Interpol to get a global arrest warrant issued against him.

The Modi Government had bought an ordinance last month aimed at impeding economic offenders from evading the process of law by remaining outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts because as per the existing law, the ED could only confiscate assets once the trial finishes which usually is a very long process, and there have been many incidences where the offenders have fled the jurisdiction anticipating the commencement, or during the awaiting of criminal proceedings,” the government said.

The Union cabinet had approved the ordinance with the President’s consent as the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018 which was introduced in the Lok Sabha on March 12 could not be taken up by the Parliament.

The ordinance makes provisions for special courts under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 to declare a person as a fugitive economic offender. However, only cases of frauds, cheque dishonour or loan default of over Rs 200 crore would come under this ordinance.

As per the government, “A Fugitive Economic Offender is a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued in respect of a scheduled offence and who has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution, or being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.”

The agency will initiate the same action against absconding liquor baron Vijay Mallya, against whom the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI had filed their respective charge sheets last year.

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